words by jenny
I made a table.
I bought a slab of raw wood from some folks that make and sell rustic furniture and I took my little piece of wood back home and started this new little venture for me. Having never made a table before, I picked my dad’s brain a bit and then jumped into a new creative outlet – to test things out and learn in the process. I spent hours and hours sanding the wood and came to know each detail of the grain in the process. Then I took my wood slab to a shop to have hairpin legs made, put some finish on it and now it has joined our living room and I love it.
Using an electric sander is a rather loud activity and I was not able to listen to music or podcast, which may have been my default otherwise. So I was left to my thoughts while sanding, the wood slowly revealing its beauty and detail hidden beneath the rough marks left by a chainsaw. I spent so much time thinking about the creative process and the joy and life that creativity brings in my hours of sanding this slab of wood. And how the act of engaging in the creative parts of ourselves leads to new imagination and the ability to access different lenses through which to see so many areas of our lives.
I love that in the biblical narrative we are first introduced to God as creator. Not only do we see God as creator but that humanity is invited into the creative process as well – to tend the garden, to give name and meaning to the life around us, to create family and community.
And being a recovering perfectionist, I also love that God calls all that is created good – not perfect – but good.
Because perfection is not what creativity is about. Creativity is about risk. Creativity is about vulnerability. Creativity is about learning and stretching our imaginations beyond what we thought was possible. Creativity is about collaboration and critique. Creativity is about taking blank, empty space and canvas and calling forth something beautiful. Creativity is about taking darkness and turning it into light.
And boy doesn’t it feel like we could use some creativity in how we are living our life together. Folks who will make space to dream up realities that are not yet seen. People who bring imagination and have practiced the art calling forth beauty for beauty’s sake. Communities willing to be vulnerable and take a risk to make something new… something that God will call good.
I think the Kingdom of God is creative in ways beyond our imagination and in exercising and flexing our muscles of imagination and creativity, we start to get bigger glimpses of how God is working in the world. So whether it is painting or choreography, cooking or writing, playing dress up with our kids or throwing a pot, photography or giving space to daydream, let’s choose to make room for creativity in our lives. And let’s see how flexing those muscles of calling forth beauty and making space for imagination change the way that we live together. Let’s see it change the way we parent and the way we partner. Let’s see it change the way we engage in hospitality and how we see the stranger in our midst. Let’s see it change the way we run board meetings and respond to emails. Let’s see it change the way we care for the earth and think about future generations. Let’s see it change the way we relate to money and how we practice generosity.
Let’s let creativity become a spiritual practice, opening ourselves up to connect and learn from the One who created us in the process.
We are whole beings and we were created to be creators and invited to participate in the building of a new Kingdom.
So how will you flex those creative muscles today?
I made a table.
In the spirit of celebrating creativity, I thought I would introduce you to a few creative folks from my circle. And with the holidays right around the corner, perhaps you’ll find the perfect gift for someone on your list you love!
My friend, Jenny, has an Etsy shop where she sells her amazing hand-lettered work! We have much of her work in our home and she has helped us over the years with fundraising and mailing pieces we wanted to send out. Greeting cards, holiday items, prayers, great quotes, bucket lists, buttons – it’s all there! And her new Enneagram collection is SUPER!
One of my creative practices in Chicago was a weekly pottery class which I was able to take with my friend, EBeth. Ebeth has thrown pots for years now and has started selling her beautiful work on an Etsy shop. A mug I purchased from her is my absolute favorite for afternoon tea. She’s got mugs, fermentation jars, bowls, vases, tumblers – check them out!
I’M STILL HERE :: BLACK DIGNITY IN A WORLD MADE FOR WHITENESS by AUSTIN CHANNING BROWN
We attended undergrad at North Park with the author of this important and unsettling memoir, Channing’s work is honest and yet hopeful while exploring the realities of being a black woman in a world made for and by white men. There is much work to do friends, and Channing’s powerful memoir has much to teach us in the process.
ELIZABETH AHLEM CLARK
Another great friend of ours, Liz, is an AMAZING painter. She is so prolific and the details in her watercolors are incredible. She has work for sale on Esty and is also available to do commissioned work. We recently had her make .a gift for a dear friend that turned out perfectly! She has an amazing eye and ability to capture beauty in the world around her!
Our friend Hannah has been creating a beautiful community over at Kindred + Co.! After growing their family through adoption, Hannah is bringing together all three sides of the adoption triad – adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents – into honest conversation about the beauty and brokenness of adoption. Kindred + Co. blogs regularly about tough topics and makes space for all involved in the adoption process to feel heard and supported. Kindred + Co. also makes custom profile books for adoptive families and they regularly have fundraisers to support different adoption initiatives. Like right now, they are selling SUPER CUTE pillow covers to help support an organization that helps birth mothers get back on their feet! If your world or that of a friend has been changed through adoption, you have to check out Kindred + Co.
(pillow cases only available through November 22!)
Dominique and Chris attended seminary together and now Dominique is serving as the Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Covenant. Dominique’s book sheds light on the great injustices of mass incarceration in the US and calls the church to be an active player in just reformation of the system. It is a hard and important read for faith communities!